Human rights campaigners will appear at Number 10 today to present an open letter calling on the UK government to withdraw its invitation to the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman.
The open letter accuses bin Salman of creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today through the bombing campaign in Yemen. It also raises concerns over the lack of substantial progress on human rights in Saudi Arabia, where over 100 people were executed in 2017.
Campaigners say that this is part of a concerted campaign that also includes a parliamentary petition launched through an Early Day Motion in Westminster.
Lucie Kinchin of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), who has given its backing to the campaign, said: “If this visit goes ahead it will be seen around the world as a clear endorsement of the devastating war that the Crown Prince is waging on Yemen, and a slap in the face for those being tortured and abused by the Saudi dictatorship. After three years of destruction, it is time for Theresa May to stop arming and supporting this appalling regime.”
The letter states: “The undersigned organisations and individuals urge the Prime Minister Theresa May to withdraw the invitation to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia to visit Britain. Bin Salman is the second most senior member of the Saudi regime, which has one of the worst human rights records in the world. Torture, arbitrary detention, and other appalling abuses are widely documented. In 2017 alone, Saudi authorities executed over 100 people.
The Crown Prince has overseen the war on Yemen, creating tens of thousands of deaths and injuries. In the words of the UN, Yemen is facing ‘the world’s worst humanitarian disaster for 50 years’. UK made jets and bombs have played a major role in destroying civilian targets and the poor nation’s infrastructure. UK personnel, from the armed forces and BAE Systems, are present in the Saudi operations centre, aiding this catastrophe.
The Saudi regime has also supported repression in other states, notably Bahrain where its military supported the crackdown on peaceful protestors in 2011. Recently, the Crown Prince has established a blockade of Qatar, and held the prime minister of Lebanon in custody. Both of these latter acts were failed attempts to impose regime change on sovereign nations.
It shames us as a nation to support and associate with a brutal dictator who uses hunger as a weapon, and has allowed the largest cholera epidemic in history to develop in Yemen. The interests of the people of Britain, and the peoples suffering from the Crown Prince’s adventurism, are not served by this visit. The invitation must be withdrawn”.
The list of signatories include:
Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK)
Bahrain Institute for Human Rights
Bahrain Opposition Block
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT)
Global Justice Now
Human Rights for Yemen
Sheba for Democracy and Human Rights
Stop the War Coalition
War on Want